Guest Post: How To Get Control Of Your Time

9 May 2024

IPSE

Guest Post

How to get control of your time as a self-employed professional.

Being your own boss can be liberating. You make your own rules and there isn’t an authoritative figure telling you where, when and how you should be working.

However, unless you are managing your time, resources and energy in the most productive and proactive way then self-employment can become overwhelming.

Here, the experts at IPSE share some tips and tricks to help you maintain motivation, manage your time in the most efficient way and ensure your freelance business can thrive.

Goal setting

One of the most important things you need to consider when running your own business is what your goals are. What is it you want your business to achieve, what are you working towards and how are you going to get there?

Knowing the answers to these questions allows you to plan and prioritize your tasks accordingly. Defining your short-term and long-term objectives ultimately provides you with the structure and motivation needed to manage your time effectively and succeed in self-employment.

Simplify and prioritize the to-do list

A lengthy to-do list can often ignite a sense of dread; lists are effective but not when they’re equally weighted. What we mean by this is that answering a quick email is not equivalent to finalizing a 6 month-long project. This overwhelming and seemingly unachievable list of assignments can often lead to procrastination.

A great method, discussed by entrepreneur Grace Beverely, is that your to-do list should be split into quick ticks (things that take up to 5 minutes to complete), tasks (things that take up to 30 minutes to complete) and projects (things that take 30 minutes plus and can be split into smaller tasks). This method allows you to prioritize your work without causing stress or overwhelm.

Another useful prioritization method is the Eisenhower Matrix which involves you separating your tasks into 4 categories – tasks you should do, schedule, delegate or delete. This quadrant is based on the urgency and importance of specific tasks and can be especially beneficial for neurodiverse individuals who find it hard to organize their thoughts and are prone to distraction.

Technology can lend a hand

In an ever-evolving technological world, use technology to your advantage. Populating an electronic calendar with any important deadlines, events or tasks is a great way to manage your time and ensure that nothing is forgotten. Platforms like ClickUp, Trello and Monday.com are all great ways of organizing your schedule.

In addition to this, to save time when writing copy or captions, AI writing tools such as ChatGPT and Gemini are useful. The best usage for AI text generation is alongside a human writer or editor, rather than as a replacement. The same goes for AI design tools like Davinci, DALL.E and Adobe’s AI functionalities.

For your social media marketing needs, social mapping platforms like Sprout Social and Emplifi are great ways of identifying your target audience and scheduling content. Furthermore, platforms like Buffer and Feedhive integrate AI into content creation which can speed up the design process massively.

Finally, even invoicing can be made simpler with help from online accounting tools which can save you valuable time and energy, especially once you’re an established business and need to direct your attention other areas of self-employment.

Delegate or outsource

Another vital timesaver, if this is financially achievable or accessible to you, is to delegate or outsource certain tasks.

Outsourcing allows you to focus on your core competencies and revenue-generating activities. By delegating non-core tasks, you can spend more time on what you do best, which ultimately increases your productivity and efficiency.

In addition to helping with your time management, outsourcing is also a good opportunity to access specialized skills that you may not already possess, it’s cost-effective if it saves you investing in new equipment or training and it reduces the overall stress of trying to juggle too many tasks at once.

Take a break

Research has shown that freelancers take an average of only 24 days holiday per year in the UK. This is 4 days less than a regular employee. It has also been documented that 78% of these freelancers work while they’re on holiday.

In order to remain motivated, ambitious and inspired, you should give yourself a break! Whether this is an interval between stressful tasks or a week-long trip to the south of France, you should give yourself time to disconnect.

Establishing and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is vital for self-employed individuals because there often isn’t a divide between the two due to the lack of an enforced workplace structure. Spend time pursuing your non-work related passions like exercise, hobbies or spending time with your loved ones.

Find a routine that works for you and be strict with yourself to avoid excessive and prolonged stress that ultimately leads to burnout. This way, you should find that your allocated work times are far more productive.

Set boundaries

Finally, know your boundaries and what is achievable in a set amount of time. Learn to say no to any distractions, additional work requests or projects that are not part of your schedule. This also goes for ongoing projects; be stern with the workload and do not allow a mission creep (a gradual expansion of a project or mission, beyond its original objectives).

Additionally, take some time to review, reflect and evaluate your progress regularly to identify areas for improvement and adjust your time management strategies accordingly.

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